Wednesday, March 26, 2014

About That Naval Station Mayport (March 24 - 28)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Naval Station Mayport located north of Jacksonville, Florida. Naval Station Mayport contains a protected harbor that can accommodate aircraft carrier size vessels and can handle 34 ships. In addition it has an airstrip capable of landing any size aircraft. It is the third largest naval station in the United States.

 NS Mayport Command Center

We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at Pelican Roost, directly on the St. Johns River. It is this river that ships take to the harbor of NS Mayport. From the RV park, we can watch the ship traffic.
 Roger and Bear

 From our spot at the RV park we look out at St. Johns River, then a barrier reef, then the Atlantic Ocean (visible at the top of the picture).

 Boat traffic is carefully monitored.

The USS New York,  constructed with metal from the fallen twin towers, is one of the Navy's newest vessels.

Another view of the USS New York

With it's close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Roger, Bear and I were able to get in a great beach walk.

We will finish out the week at NS Mayport and head to Jekyll Island, Georgia on Saturday. Thank you for your interest in our travels.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

About That Disney World (March 16 - 22)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Disney World in Orlando, California. We arrived here on Wednesday, after spending the first part of the week in Punta Gorda. One of the best things about RVing is visiting friends along the way. Before we left Punta Gorda, we got to see friends from Missouri, Bunny and Joe. Also we were able to work in a few more games of Pickle Ball. Did you happen to see the NBC network news episode where Brian Williams stated that Pickle Ball is the fastest growing sport in the country?

Our drive to Disney World took us along US 17, then Interstate 4 into the park.

 Welcome to Walt Disney World

 We stayed at the Fort Wilderness RV park.

 Our spot at Ft. Wilderness

As many of you know, Disney World has four major theme parks with many more attractions in other areas. We opted for the following:

Day One - Set up the RV and had dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Dinner Show.

Day Two - The Magic Kingdom
     This was a long day! With the park opening at 8 o'clock, we were able to visit all of the attractions that we wanted to see. We went back to the RV to give Bear a break then returned to the Magic Kingdom for the night time Electrical Parade and Fireworks.
 Lots of princesses at the Magic Kingdom

 Roger stands in front of Mickey and Walt Disney, with the castle in the background.

 Mickey and Minnie as topiaries.

 Roger is planning our next move.

 Main Street parade

Day Three - Epcot
     This was my favorite! With the International Flower and Garden Festival going on, we saw incredible topiaries and flowers.

 Inside of the Butterfly Garden, there were beautifully blown glass butterflies and flowers posing with  the real thing.

Day Four - Disney's Hollywood Studios
 Roger poses in front of Mickey's sorcerer's  hat.

The scariest ride we rode in all three days was Rock' N' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Roger poses in front after we finished the ride.

Our final day at Disney World will be on Sunday. We have opted for relaxing around the pool and taking it easy. Yes, we are tired after our three and a half day adventure at Disney World. Thank you for checking in with us. We leave for Jacksonville on Monday morning.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

About That Punta Gorda (March 9 - 15)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Punta Gorda, Florida. Punta Gorda (Fat Point in Spanish) sits on the west coast of southern Florida. We are here for 10 days.

Before we left Naples, we drove to Marco Island for a visit with our grandchildren. Abby and Jackson, with their mother (Suzanne) flew into the area for a visit with their other grandparents (Patti and Jim) who have vacationed in the area for many years. We met at the Snook Inn for a delightful lunch.

 Suzanne took this picture featuring (on the left) Jackson, Patti and Jim. Roger, Abby and I sit on the right side.

 One more picture and reminder of such a lovely time.

On Monday morning we left Naples for the quick trip to Punta Gorda. The picture below shows Roger and Bear standing on our spot at Waters Edge RV Resort. 

Notice the Pony Tail Palm to the right of Roger. The size is indicative of the wonderful growing conditions in Florida. As a plant lover, I am amazed at the sizes that these palms grow in the area. Though I have grown them in several places that we have lived, never have they been this size.

While in Punta Gorda we are playing Pickleball (yes there is a vibrant PB group in the area), having some work done on the RV, cycling and visiting friends.

 There are eight Pickleball courts in Punta Gorda. Play starts at 9 o'clock and goes for at least three hours. All courts are filled.

Friends from the Air Force (Jim and Margaret) live in Punta Gorda. Jim took us for a bike ride around the area.
 Roger and Jim

One of the largest ponytail palms that I have ever seen. Enlarge the pic to see the huge trunk.

 Ponce de Leon supposedly spent time in the area.

 Lots of canals allow boat owners to keep their boats at home. The boat in the canal is a police boat.

On Saturday we spent the afternoon with Jim and Margaret on their boat. What a wonderful time we had in Port Charlotte Bay, capped off with a dinner at a local restaurant that sits on the water.

 Margaret and Jim before we set sail.

 Mangroves line the water routes.
 Jim is teaching Roger about sailing.

Thank you Jim and Margaret for a terrific afternoon.
One of the best things about RVing is seeing friends. 

Thank you for checking in with us this week. The next blog will come from Orlando. We leave Punta Gorda on Wednesday for Disney World.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

About That Naples, Florida (March 2 - 8)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Naples, Florida! We left the Everglades on Monday morning and drove along Florida Highway 41 to Naples. Along the way, we stopped at the Oasis Visitor Center for a view of alligators from their walkway. The walkway made it very easy to spot the reptiles and we saw even more as we continued on our way to Naples.

 Anhinga diving birds

This week we stayed at the Neapolitan Cove RV resort. This lovely park is filled with beautiful plants and flowers. We have had beautiful weather with only one thunderstorm on Friday.

 Our spot at Neapolitan RV Resort

 The land of Florida Palms

Lucky for us we found a Pickleball group, complete with their own courts (as opposed to sharing with tennis enthusiasts) and we were warmly welcomed to join in the fun. Roger and I played for at least 2 1/2 hours Tuesday through Saturday. I think we are obsessed with this game.

 With at least 30 participants each day, we lined our rackets up for the next vacant court. As soon as a court is vacated, the next four players have the opportunity to test their skills.

 Four Pickleball courts with nonstop play, seven days a week. The courts are smaller than tennis courts and the net is lower.

Roger and I are looking forward to our visit with our daughter-in-law and grandchildren on Sunday, in Marco Island (about 30 minutes from Naples). Suzanne is visiting her parents, Jim and Patti, while they vacation in this beautiful area. We are grateful to get to spend some time with all of them. On Monday morning, we head to Punta Gorda, Florida for the week. Thank you for checking in with us.

Monday, March 3, 2014

About That Everglades National Park (March 1 - 7)

Dear Family and Friends,

Our final week in Key West was filled with more of the fun that we enjoyed while in the area: Pickleball games, cycling, outings with new and old friends and playing with Bear. We enjoyed our stay in Key West, but were glad to continue our travels in the eastern half of the country.

We left Key West early on a very wet Friday morning. Our route took us along Highway 1 through the Keys, back to the mainland. It is still hard for me to believe that we were closer to Cuba (90 miles away), than the US mainland, while we were in Key West.

 Farewell Key West

 Water on both sides of the bridges

 Nine Mile Bridge

Everglades National Park was our next stop. We enjoyed three nights in the park. This was the first time that we were able to stay in a National Park because the Tour was 42.5 feet long and difficult if not impossible for National Parks to accommodate. The Unity is easy to park as it is only 24 feet long, perfect for park camping.

This park was created in 1947 in an effort to save the Glades. Plant, bird and animal life are abundant and thanks to strict efforts, many endangered species have returned to a larger population.

Our first stop was at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. Roger and I walked two hikes: Anhinga (named for a bird) and Gumbo Limbo (named for the tree Gumbo Limbo) Trails.
 The Anhinga can dive 30 feet for fish.

 Spatterdock (lower right corner) in the lilies.

 Alligator Territory

 Great Blue Heron

 Bromeliad Air Plants that live in the trees. They are not parasites, but use the trees to anchor.

 Anhinga drying his wings.

 Roger on the Gumbo Limbo trail.

The next morning we took an inland waterway boat trip. Captain Steve and guide Sheiston were extremely knowledgeable.

 Osprey Nest with two chicks

 The Everglades has the largest area of Mangroves in the country. 

 Sheiston is retrieving my hat that blew off in a gust of wind. 

 Baby crocodile (Everglades are the only place where Crocs and Gators can live together).
Gators need fresh water more than Crocs.

 Examples of two types of Bromeliads
They get their nutrients through the air.

 Baby Croc

 Mangoes and hardwood trees on either side of the channel.

 Mangroves have tap and walking roots.

 Captain Steve lets me drive!

 Two Ibis perch in the tree.

Following the boat trip we were treated to a view of a manatee at the dock. What a thrill to see this sea cow. She has barnacles on her back.

We took advantage of several lectures on crocs and manatees in the park. On Sunday morning, Roger and I took a ranger led canoe trip through the mangrove forests. The trip lasted two and a half hours and we learned a lot.

On Monday morning we drove out of the park for Naples, Florida. We will be in this area for a week. Thank you for checking in with us. We are thrilled to be on the road, discovering the magic of this great country.